Winter 2007 – From the President

On behalf of the new IAEJ bureau, recently elected in Aachen for a new four year term, I would like to take this opportunity to wish all our members the very best for 2007. We work in a global media sphere where things are changing fast and the pressures can sometimes be intense.

Along with fellow bureau member and colleague Kit Houghton, I attended the annual general meeting of the International Equestrian OrganizersÃ?¢ââ??‰â??¢ Alliance (IEOA) at the beginning of December in Geneva. I told them that the IAEJ is quite serious about ensuring the best possible working conditions for our members who make their living either wholly or partly from reporting about horse sports; members who are highly concerned by what is going on in their professional daily life. This is why the Alliance was started in 1966 (40 years already!), as representative of a true and important part of the equestrian world.

This is why the IAEJ is fully representative at the highest level of the sport by being the proper interlocutor of the equestrian sport when special matters have to be discussed or are discussed.

This is why, in the months since the World Equestrian Games in Aachen where we were elected, the bureau has updated the guidelines for show organizers in accordance with the FEI communications department. Thanks for their co-operation and to fellow bureau members who put in their time on this project. We now plan to distribute these guidelines to organisers across all FEI disciplines.

This why we Ã?¢ââ??‰â?¬Å? with Lucia Montanarella who has already opened the door of the IOC and AIPS Ã?¢ââ??‰â?¬Å? have already started negotiating with Beijing through the FEI on the quota of specialised journalists which will be available for the 2008 Beijing Olympic Games to be held in Hong Kong and also on the press facilities to be provided there.

This is why we are already looking forward to the 2010 Kentucky WEG. Lessons learned in Aachen (see our members’ reports in this newsletter) should serve us well in Kentucky. We have sent detailed reports to both Aachen and Kentucky WEG organisers pointing up what was right and what was wrong at this year’s WEG in the hope Kentucky will take note and act and improve on the latter!

I have no doubt that the internet will play a bigger role in our day to day work. The newsletter now will only be circulated by internet. I do believe that internet can be a way of communication among us, but it will never replace the face to face and the live debate. This is why after listening to many suggestions guided by one priority, making decisions quicker and easier, I would be for my part, more moderate in this regard. Certainly if any members have any comments or questions concerning any of the work we do or need to report any incident or event of which we should be aware, then by all means please contact any of us by e-mail. But main decisions will continue to be discussed and taken in open assemblies, possibly after an internet survey. For example, we are currently looking at designs for a new logo for the IAEJ. If anyone has any input on that they should let us know. We are also investigating a means of secure on-line voting so that members unable to attend our annual general assemblies (in Las Vegas in April 2007) can still vote in elections, etc.

Now as a last point, we have grown over the years to almost 250 members. We considered in Aachen that quality was more important than quantity. That is not meant to sound harsh but we have to be realistic. Our function as an organisation must be to serve the needs of working members of the equestrian media: journalists and photographers, who, as I said before, are fully engaged in providing equestrian coverage for their chosen outlet/s. Additionally, in order for us to be taken seriously around a negotiating table, we must be perceived as a totally professional association. That is why we have taken measures to tighten up our membership criteria. The rules for membership have been there all along in the statutes but over the years they seemed to grow fuzzy; so much so that in some cases, the two supporters named by an applicant, when approached to confirm their sponsorship, had never heard of the applicant!

Even with the best will in the world, having two offices, one in Holland and one in Canada, has proved to be confusing and membership records were in a bit of a muddle. However, thanks to the wonderful services of our treasurer Jennifer Anstey, daughter of our late president Susan Jane, we are in better shape administratively than we have been of late.

One last point. In order to keep our association vibrant and ongoing we need to recruit the newer and younger members of the media. Please encourage new members of your newsrooms, editorial staff, etc to apply for membership.

I hope to see you soon, either around and about in Europe or in Las Vegas for the World Cups in Dressage and Jumping and, of course, our AGM. In the meantime, I hope you had a Merry Christmas and best wishes from all of us on the Bureau for a Happy, Healthy and Prosperous New Year.